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Taxonomic Status of the False Coral Snake Genus Simophis - BioOne

Taxonomic Status of the False Coral Snake Genus Simophis - BioOne

TABLE 1. Dorsal scale

TABLE 1. Dorsal scale rows at midbody and numbers of supralabial scales of Simophis rhinostoma from Paraguay and Brazil recorded from some naturalists in the XIX century. Notice that holotype of Simophis rohdei (ZISP 6658) has actually 15 dorsal scale rows and not 17 as is mentioned in the original description. Specimen Dorsal scale rows Supralabials Schlegel, 1837 Heterodon rhinostoma 15 7/7 Boettger, 1885 Rhinaspis Rohdei (ZISP 6658 ) 15 8/8 Boulenger, 1894 Simophis rohdii 15 — Koslowsky, 1898 Simophis rhinostoma 15 8/8 Simophis rohdei was thought to be endemic to Paraguay. Peters and Orejas Miranda (1970) considered S. rhinostoma to be restricted to Brazil although it was recorded from Paraguay by Serié (1919), Bertoni (1914, 1939), and Schouten (1937). None of the specimens supporting those Paraguayan records are extant. In Brazil, S. rhinostoma is widely distributed from central (Distrito Federal and the state of Goiás), western (states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul), and southeastern Brazil (states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo; Peters and Orejas-Miranda, 1970; pers. obs., data from Coleção Herpetológica do Instituto Butantan, and Museu de História Natural Capão do Imbuia). Although S. rhinostoma and S. rohdei have been treated as distinct species by many authors, Koslowsky (1898) thought that possibly both should be regarded as a single species because he found a specimen from Mato Grosso do Sul (Brazil) with characteristics of both (15 dorsal scale rows and 8 supralabials). Also, Amaral (1929a,b, 1976) thought that there was only one species in the genus, with two subspecies. Gatti (1955), following Koslowsky (1898), stated that ‘‘... Simophis rhinostoma (Schgl.) y, su tal vez sinónimo, S. rohdei (Bóttg.) se encuentran en Paraguay’’ [Translation: ... Simophis rhinostoma (Schgl.) and, possibly a synonym, S. rohdei (Bóttg.) are found in Paraguay]. Later, only S. rohdei has been recognized SHORTER COMMUNICATIONS 699 for the Paraguayan herpetofauna (Peters and Orejas Miranda, 1970; Talbot, 1979). Koslowsky’s (1898) idea of a single species in the genus was possibly ignored because he based it on only one specimen. MATERIALS AND METHODS We review the relevant taxonomic characters of 46 specimens of both nominal species from Brazil and Paraguay, including the holotype of R. rohdei, and discuss the taxonomic status of both taxa. Snout–vent length (SVL) and total length (TL) were recorded in the preserved specimens. Measurements are given in millimeters. In ventral scales counts, first ventral was considered the first scale wider than long following Peters (1964). Subcaudal counts included neither the pair contacting the vent nor the terminal spine of the tail. Symmetric characters in cephalic pholidosis are presented as right/left. Museum acronyms and specimens examined are listed in Appendix 1. Dorsal scales were recorded anterior (about one head length behind the head), medial (center of body), and posterior (about one head length anterior to the cloaca). RESULTS Table 1 presents data of specimens recorded by previous researchers. Examination of 46 specimens from Brazil and Paraguay confirms the supposition of Koslowski (1898) that a single species is involved (Table 2). 1837. Simophis rhinostoma Schlegel, 1837 Heterodon rhinostoma Schlegel, Essai Physion. Serpens, 2: 100, pl. 3, figs. 17-19. Type Locality: Interior of Brazil. Holotype: ZISP 6658. 1858. Rhinostoma schlegelii Günther, Cat. Sn. Brit. Mus.: 8. Type locality: North America. 1860. Simophis Rhinostoma: Peters, Monats. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, 1860: 521. 1863. Rhinaspis proboscideus Jan, Arch. Zool. Anat. Fis., 2: 215. Type locality: Brazil. 1885. Rhinaspis Rohdei Boettger, Zeits. für Naturwiss., 58: 231. Type locality: Paraguay. 1894. Simophis rohdii: Boulenger, Cat. Snakes Brit. Mus., 2: 254. 1929a. Simophis rhinostoma rhinostoma: Amaral, Mem. Inst. Butantan, 4:92. 1929b. Simophis rhinostoma rohdei: Amaral, Mem. Inst. Butantan, 4:182. Diagnosis.—Head differentiated from the neck, tip of the snout flattened, rostral with a horizontal keel. Aposematic coloration consisting of triads of black TABLE 2. Pholidosis of Simophis rhinostoma, including variation. Data of supralabials and infralabials are given in right/left direction. Dorsals Ventrals Subcaudals Supralabials Infralabials (N 5 41) (N 5 46) (N 5 46) (N 5 40) (N 5 39) 15–15–13 (3) 169–191 60–74 5(3)/5(3) (1) 8/9 (1) 17–15–13 (37) 7(3–4)/7(3–4) (15) 9/9 (35) 17–17–15 (1) 7(3–4)/8(4–5) (5) 10/9 (3) 8(4–5)/7(3–4) (2) 8(4–5)/8(4–5) (15) 8(4–5)/9(4–5) (2)

700 SHORTER COMMUNICATIONS FIG. 1. Relationship between subcaudals and ventrals in males and females of Simophis rhinostoma. Circles: males. Triangles: females. and white rings separated by red rings mimetic with coral snakes of the Micrurus frontalis complex. Belly variable. Body of medium size, tail moderately long. A diastema dividing in half the row of maxillary teeth. The combination of red, black, and white rings, a diastema in the middle of the maxillary row of teeth, and a rostral with a horizontal keel distinguishes it from all other Colubridae. Description.—A medium-sized snake. The species can reach 1 m in total length (Jordão and Bizerra, 1996). The biggest specimen analyzed by us was a male 887 mm in total length (SVL 691 mm), and the smallest was 335 mm in total length (SVL 275 mm). The tail represents between 0.21% and 0.28% of the body length. Jordão and Bizerra (1996) only reported sexual dimorphism in the SVL, stating that females were bigger than males. There are no differences in the ratio of tail lengths in males and females. Maxillae (based on left maxillary bone of specimen MUHINA 1903) relatively long (8.3 mm), it extends from the suture between nasal and first supralabial scale to the middle of supralabial under the first postocular (sixth supralabial in analyzed specimen). Diastema present but very short, located at the level of the maxillary palatine process. Eighteen total teeth. Nine prediastemal teeth very curved, projecting backward. Size of prediastemal teeth approximately half of postdiastemal ones. Nine postdiastemal teeth slightly increasing in size posteriorad. Postdiastemal teeth less curved than prediastemal ones, and further apart. Maxillary palatine process extended forward, reaching the level of the sixth tooth. Internal extreme of maxillary palatine process curved downward, ending in abroad articulation with ectopterygoid. Head pointed with snout flattened. Rostral scale wider than high and modified by a horizontal keel, projecting backward in a triangle partially dividing internasals. Internasals pentagonal. Prefrontals larger than internasals. Frontal as wide as long. Supraoculars long. Parietals only a little longer than broad. Nasals divided. Loreal almost square, approximately half size of the eye. Preocular high, with pointed superior margin. Two postoculars, upper a little bigger than lower. Supralabials increase in size from the first to the penultimate, which can be of same size as the last or last can be a bit smaller than the penultimate. Mental triangular and small. Infralabials follow the normal colubrid pattern. First genials smaller than posterior ones. Traits of pholidosis given in Table 2. Supralabials 7– 9 (exceptionally 5), 3–4, or 4–5 reaching the orbit; commonly 9 infralabials, rarely 8 or 10. Temporals 1 + 2or2+ 2. Dorsal scales smooth without apical pits, in 15 middorsal rows (exceptionally 17) with reduction (normally 17–15–13). Ventrals 169–191 (mean 5 177, s 5 5.44, N 5 47) and subcaudals 60–74 (mean 5 67, s 5 2.98, N 5 42) divided. No obvious sexual dimorphism in numbers of ventrals and subcaudals (Fig. 1). Anal plate divided. Top of head black with scale sutures white. Temporals and scales behind temporals red with some posterior scales edged with black. Supralabials and infralabials white, with posterior edges black. First genials white in first half and black in posterior half, and second genial white. Dorsal body coloration and

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